Friday, December 31, 2021

An Adventure in Italian Cuisine at Hotel Villa Steno

We mentioned briefly in our last blog the Italian pesto and pasta demonstration at Hotel Villa Steno.  But, that doesn't say enough about the incredible time and the fun, adventure, instruction, and meal that we experience. 

Our class starts with Carla showing us how to each make our own pesto, combining Genovese basil (which flourishes in Liguria, this region of north-western Italy), pine nuts, parmigiano reggiano, pecorino sardo (or romano), garlic, and olive oil in a mortar and pestle.  With much upper arm muscle, this all turns into pesto.

Class is ready to begin

Pesto ingredients and recipe

It takes a while, but eventually pesto arrives for each of us.

Pesto is here

Taste testing

After the pesto, we make our pasta, combining eggs, "0" flour, semola flour, and salt.  More arm action, followed by cranking on the pasta machine as we make our dough thinner and thinner until it is ready to be cut into strips of tagliatelle.

Pasta ingredients

Tagliatelle in process

While we are making the pesto and pasta, Matteo prepares branzino in olive oil and lemon (and a few olives and herbs).

Branzino in process

Our pasta is cooked, mixed with the pesto and served, followed by the branzino (incredible, simply cooked and the best we've ever had - no bones, creamy, light, flavorful).  Wow!

Tagliatelle with pesto

Followed by branzino

To top it all off, homemade tiramisu for desert.  What a treat!  We worked for our dinner, learned something, and dined spectacularly.  What more could anyone ask for?

Tiramisu for desert

Our class is held on the balcony of Hotel Villa Steno, where we normally have breakfast and start our day overlooking the city of Monterosso al Mare.  The hotel is located up via Roma in the old town, on a hill overlooking the city.  The views are incredible and change through the day, from spectacular sunrises to scenic days and picturesque nights.  Always tranquil and serene.

View from the balcony where we make pesto

Views throughout the day

This has been another great experience at Hotel Villa Steno in Monterosso al Mare.  There is a reason that we come back every year and that this is one of our favorite places in the world.  Great sights, great adventures, great food, great people, great friends.  It doesn't get much better than this!


We wish you all a Happy New Year and look forward to sharing new adventures in the new year.  So far, we have plans for the US, Europe, and the Caribbean.  We hope to also spend some time in Asia, but will have to see how that develops.  Thank you for joining us this year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Dining in Cinque Terre

Our first dinner in Monterosso al Mare is at Il Casello, dining outside next to the beach in the old town.  We welcome ourselves to Cinque Terre with stuffed anchovies, seafood salad, and seafood risotto.

Dining by the beach, stuffed anchovies

Seafood salad, seafood risotto

As the sun sets, we watch the city light up and, after dinner, walk back through town past many other dining opportunities, some of which we will experience ourselves over the next few days.

Night arrives, dining on the streets

Our second dinner is at L'Osteria, a longtime favorite.  We start with anchovies in olive oil and bruschetta, followed by octopus and mussels.

Anchovies, mixed bruschetta

Octopus, mussels

The next night, we wander into a new restaurant and order the fish salad, which comes with an assortment of fish, including a separate plate of langoustines.

Fish salad

One night, we are in for a real treat. Carla at our hotel, Villa Steno shows us how to make pesto and pasta the traditional way (using a mortar and pestle and arm muscle power for the pesto, followed by more arm power for the pasta) and we eat dinner with the pesto and pasta that we make.  What fun and what a treat!

Making pesto and pasta

Enjoying the combination!

Our final night, we enjoy a meal at Belvedere, back at the beach, starting with salted anchovies and marinated anchovies, followed by black and white pasta with mussels and seafood spaghetti.

Dining on the water at Belevdere

Anchovies, two ways

Black and White Pasta with mussels, seafood spaghetti

Outdoor seating by the beach

Remembering the great tastes, we walk back through town, passing more people enjoying the evening and their meals up and down via Roma, the main street in this old town part of Monterosso al Mare.  Another week in this fabulous and magical place is coming to an end, but we'll be back next year for more!

Walking back through town

Monterosso at night

Friday, December 24, 2021

Neighborhood Holiday Displays

Our new neighborhood in Texas takes holiday decorating seriously.  We walk through the streets around our house and here is what we see.

We wish you all a Happy, Safe, and Healthy Christmas and look forward to sharing more great experiences with you in the new year!